Alcantara-Historic Town with Laid-back Atmosphere
If you like history, you have to visit Alcantara, a town that seems to have stopped in time. It is set in a wonderful tropical landscape on the other side of the Baia de Sao Marcos from Sao Luis. Founded in the 17th century, it was one of the richest and most important towns in Maranhao and the seat of the rural aristocracy.
While the town has ben in decline since the latter half of the 19th century, it is still considered an architectural treasure. Alcantara is virtually untouched and was listed as a National Heritage Site in 1948. It has an outstanding architectural heritage, with over 300 colonial buildings as well as some interesting ruins. Worth visiting is Praca da Matriz, a square plaza surrounded by colonial buildings, Pelourinho (Pillory), ruins of the Igreja de Sao Matias and century old trees.
Beside the anient, Alcantara has been home to a sample of modern air-space technology since the 80s. One of the most modern Latin American space bases, where satellite launching projects are developed, is installed just 7 km from the town.
Alcantara has also some nice deserted beaches, accessible by canoe. And even better is sail through igarapes (mangroves) and visit the Ilha do Cajual, an island where you can see beautiful guaras (red ibis).
You get to Alcantara by boat from Sao Luis. The journey takes about an hour.